By Biodun Busari
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary) was the Queen of the United Kingdom and of 14 other sovereign countries.
She was born on 21st April 1926 and died on 8th September 2022 at the age of 96.
She ascended the throne in February 1952 at the age of 25 to become queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries.
Her reign of 70 years and seven months was the longest of any British monarch in history. This made her witness and experience the world’s major events – both positive and negative.
Expansion of Commonwealth countries
But, as of 2022, the Commonwealth countries have grown to 54.
They are Africa – Botswana, Cameroon, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Kingdom of Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
In Asia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
From the Caribbean and Americas, there are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and The Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
European countries are Cyprus, Malta, United Kingdom, while the Pacific has Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The monarch’s visits
Throughout her reign, the Queen has made hundreds of state visits to other countries and tours of the Commonwealth and as such was the most widely travelled head of state.
She visited Nigeria in 1956 – met and commissioned her bronze sculpture exhibited by Ben Enwonwu, a Nigerian sculptor.
She also visited the University College Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) main campus. She performed the formal opening ceremony for commissioning the first female hostel named after, Queen Elizabeth II Hall.
Her many historic visits and meetings included state visits to China in 1986, Russia in 1994, the Republic of Ireland in 2011, and visits to or from five popes.
Meetings with Popes
She witnessed the reigns of five Popes of the Roman Catholic Church.
It is noteworthy to say that one year before Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne, she met Pope Pius XII as a princess in 1951.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip had an audience with Pope John XXIII at the Apostolic Palace on May 5, 1961.
She met with Pope John Paul II in 1980, 1982, and 2000
She met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican together with her late husband, Prince Philip, for an official state visit on October 13, 1980.
In a historic trip marking the first time a pope set foot in Britain, Pope John Paul II visited the queen at Buckingham Palace in May 1982.
Almost 20 years later, the queen travelled to the Vatican for a private meeting with the Polish pope on October 17, 2000.
Pope Benedict XVI’s first meeting during his four-day visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010 was also with Queen Elizabeth II in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Queen Elizabeth II met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April 2014.
British Prime Ministers
Queen Elizabeth II witnessed the ascendancy of 15 British Prime Ministers including Sir Winston Churchill whom she met in 1952. He governed from 1951 to 1955.
Anthony Eden from 1955 to 1957.
Harold Macmillan was next from 1957 to 1963.
Alec Douglas-Home came after him from 1963 to 1964.
Harold Wilson took the baton and lasted between 1964 and 1970.
From 1970 to 1974, it was Edward Heath.
Harold Wilson came back and led from 1974 to 1976.
James Callaghan ruled from 1976 to 1979.
After him, the first female Prime Minister came into power in the name of Margaret Thatcher who ruled from 1979 to 1990.
John Major came to rule from 1990 to 1997.
Tony Blair came on board from 1997 to 2007.
Gordon Brown took over from 2007 to 2010.
David Cameron was next from 2010 to 2016.
The second female PM was Theresa May from 2016 to 2019.
Boris Johnson succeeded her from 2019 to 2022.
Liz Truss became the PM on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.
The Queen also witnessed 18 Commonwealth Games in her lifetime.
Vancouver, Canada – 1958.
Cardiff, Wales – 1958.
Perth, Australia – 1962,
Kingston, Jamaica – 1966
Edinburgh, Scotland – 1970 respectively.
Christchurch, New Zealand – 1974
Edmonton, Canada – 1978.
Brisbane, Australia – 1982
Edinburgh, Scotland – 1986.
Auckland, New Zealand – 1990
Victoria, Canada – 1994
They were held first in an Asian country in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 1998.
Manchester, England – 2002.
Melbourne, Australia – 2006
Delhi, India – 2010.
Glasgow, Scotland – 2014
Gold Coast, Australia – 2018
The last edition witnessed was hosted by Birmingham, England – 2022.
FIFA World Cup tournaments
There were 17 FIFA World Cup finals played when the Queen was alive.
Switzerland (1954), West Germany (1958) and Chile (1962).
The 1966 edition was quintessential for the Queen and her country as England hosted and won their first ever major title in history.
Mexico (1970), West Germany (1974), Argentina (1978), Spain (1982) and Mexico (1986).
Italy (1990), United States of America (1994) and France (1998)
South Korea and Japan (2002), Germany (2006), South Africa (2010), Brazil (2014) and the last edition was hosted by Russia (2018).
Wars and conflicts
As the Queen, many wars broke out during her reign as she strived to preach peace in a conflicting world. Some of them were:
Kenya Emergency, 1952–1960
Cyprus Emergency, 1955–1959
Vietnam War, 1955–1975
Suez Crisis, 1956
Brunei Revolt, 1962–1963
Indonesian Confrontation, 1963–1966
Aden Emergency, 1963–1967
Nigerian Civil War, 1967 – 1970
‘The Troubles’, 1969–1998
Falklands Conflict, 1982
Gulf War, 1990–1991
Sierra Leone Civil War, 1991–2002
Bosnian War, 1992–1995
Kosovo War, 1998–1999
War in Afghanistan, 2001–2014
Iraq War, 2003–2011
Libya Conflict, 2011–present
Syria Conflict, 2011–present
Yemen Conflict, 2014–present
Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, 2014–present.
Economic recessions and meltdowns
There were economic hardships that ravaged the world during the Queen’s reign.
July 1953 – May 1954: Post-Korean War Recession
August 1957 – April 1958: Asian Flu Pandemic
1957 Asian Flu pandemic, recession
April 1960 – February 1961: The Recession that Cost Nixon an Election
December 1969 – November 1970: Putting the Brakes on 1960s Inflation
November 1973 – March 1975: The Oil Embargo
January – July 1980: Second Energy Crisis and Inflation Recession
July 1981 – November 1982: Double Dip Recession
July 1990 – March 1991: S&L Crisis and Gulf War Recession
March – November 2001: The Dot-Com Crash and 9/11
December 2007 – June 2009: The Great Recession
February – April 2020: The COVID-19 Recession.